Tuesday, August 27, 2002

NY hotels filling up near ground zero

The Associated Press

        NEW YORK - Hotels near the World Trade Center site are filling up for the anniversary of the terrorist attacks, but the rest of the city's hotel trade is languishing.

        “It's going to be a difficult September,” said Cristyne Nicholas, who heads NYC & Company, the city's tourism bureau. New York City's tourism trade usually generates up to $25 billion in revenue annually.

        Ms. Nicholas said it's too early to predict occupancy rates citywide, but projections from two Ritz-Carltons illustrate the contrasts.

        The Ritz-Carlton on Central Park South may be only half full during the week of Sept. 11, spokeswoman Emily Snyder said. “Obviously, the corporate traveler is dodging that week,” she said.

        But the new Ritz-Carlton in Battery Park, five blocks south of ground zero, is in high demand that week, spokeswoman Jennifer Oberstein said.

        The hotel, completed just this year, has a few dozen rooms that face in the direction of the trade center site.

        “So much has changed in New York tourism. Just about everybody who comes to the city puts ground zero on their itinerary,” said Mark Thomson, general manager of Embassy Suites. He said his hotel's 463 suites - including 70 facing ground zero - are nearly filled for the days leading up to Sept. 11.

        The hotel closest to ground zero, the 500-room Marriott Financial Center, has been renovated and is sold out for Sept. 11, including a dozen rooms overlooking the attack site.

        Throughout the city, calendars are wide open the week of Sept. 11 as planners have postponed or moved conventions and trade shows in deference to the anniversary.


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